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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    An Interview with Charles B. Wang

    Charles B. Wang, former CEO of Computer Associates (CA) speaks about his multi-million dollar donation to our campus, the Charles B. Wang Center.’ This interview was conducted in response to the recent interview of P.H. Tuan, the architect who designed the Wang Center.’ This previous interview of P.H. Tuan was published in the October 26, 2006 edition of the Statesman.

    Statesman: Why did you feel the need for an Asian Center?’ In your opinion, what benefit does the Wang Center give to the university?’ Maybe, we could have benefited equally from an ‘American Center’ or ‘African Center.”

    Wang: I was approached by Dr. Gary Mar who had asked me to fund the conversion of part of a building into an Asian American Cultural Center. Based upon meetings with Gary, Dr. Kenny and many others at Stony Brook it became clear to me that there was a need for a Center and that a single corridor in an already crowded building would fall short of the vision we all shared. The Wang Center is a remarkable building with incredible architecture and state-of-the-art facilities. The uses for the building do not duplicate what had already been on campus but adds new space for showcasing art, music, dance, and cuisine and fostering diversity and cultural education. It is important to note, that although the initial idea was an Asian Center, the Center is a place where all nationalities come together, in a setting that has more of an Asian influence.

    Statesman:’ Location.’ Why did you choose Stony Brook University?’ Were there any other locations you were choosing between?’ Was Stony Brook chosen just because you knew Shirley Strum Kenny previously?’ Was SBU deserving of having this large investment?

    Wang: I have a long history with Long Island. It is my home and the place I have chosen to conduct business for the majority of my career and so it was a natural choice to make this gift to an institution on Long Island. I am a firm believer in public education and the fact that a public university like Stony Brook is uniquely capable of building cultural connections as it has an incredibly diverse student population.’ The Wang Center helps support the growing diversity on campus and within the Long Island community while encouraging cross cultural exchange and forging relationships.’ Stony Brook University is a great institution providing quality education. I admire and respect Dr. Kenny and working with her through the years has been a pleasure.

    Statesman: I understand (from Mr. Tuan) that you wanted to process to move as fast as possible.’ When did you originally initiate the idea of having an Asian center?’ When did you actually contact Mr. Tuan?’ I understand that Mr. Tuan designed your home.

    Wang: I have worked with PH for many years, including on the design of my home. It was natural for me to turn to him when we decided to move ahead with building the Wang Center at Stony Brook. PH designed a truly stunning building that I believe inspires greater understanding, respect and tolerance of all cultures.

    Statesman: I have read that you put a large sum of money into the building of the Wang Center.’ How much of that money was involved with the accounting scandal that was widely publicized in the news?

    Wang: My Foundation spent over $52 million dollars towards the design and construction of the building. I am proud that I have been able to find projects that can benefit from my accomplishments.’

    Statesman: Mr. Tuan mentioned a worry that the building would be further altered by other architects when the building reverted back into the hands of the university.’ Was this one of your concerns in the building of the Wang Center?

    Wang: I trust that Dr. Kenny and Sunita [Mukhi, Director of Programs at Wang Center] will maintain the Wang Center and use the building as intended.

    Statesman: How often do you visit the Wang Center?’ Do you have a favorite spot in the building?

    Wang: I visit the Center several times a year. The Jasmine food court is my favorite spot.

    Statesman: I understand that you have stepped down as CEO of CA.’ What projects are you currently working on with the CBW foundation and elsewhere?’

    Wang: In addition to owning the New York Islanders I am working on transforming the area around Nassau Coliseum into a vibrant icon. That project, The Lighthouse, includes upgrading the Coliseum and building an athletic complex, sports technology center, residential buildings, a conference center, and a grand hotel. In addition to The Lighthouse I am also working on developing a smart growth 164 acre community in Plainview and revitalizing the Historic Oyster Bay Hamlet.’ I have continued to support The Smile Train, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center along with other charities through my foundations.

    Statesman: Mr. Tuan said the building was originally slated to be 25000 sq ft.’ Why did you make it so much bigger?’ Is there a purpose for having a chapel, theatre, etc?’ In your mind, when you first had the idea for the Wang Center, what purpose did you want the building to fill?’ Does the Wang Center fill that purpose now?

    Wang: The original plans were to build a 25,000 square foot building with additions to be built at a later period. As construction progressed we decided it would be better for the Stony Brook if we handed over a complete building rather than one which would be under construction for many years to come. The purpose of the building was to bring the community together to celebrate Asian American culture. The Center fulfills that purpose and all of the rooms in the building provide space for showcasing art, music, dance, and education.

    Statesman: Do you have any regrets concerning the building of the Wang Center?

    Wang: I regret that I do not get to spend more time at the building than I do.

    Statesman: Do you have a general interest in architecture?’ What else do you do in your spare time?’ Do you have family here?

    Wang: I enjoy sports and besides owning the New York Islanders I also own an arena football team, The Dragons. I also enjoy playing sports such as basketball.’ I live on Long Island with my family and work here every day.

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